Wayne State University

News and Announcements Archive

English Language Institute brings American holidays to life for international students

December 17, 2013

International students got a taste of two beloved American holidays this semester at Halloween and Thanksgiving parties hosted by the university’s English Language Institute, which brought traditional food and activities to Manoogian on Oct. 31 and Nov. 26. Scores of students bobbed for apples, carved pumpkins and competed in the candy corn toss at the lunchtime Halloween event, while trivia was the big game following a traditional Thanksgiving meal cooked for students, faculty and staff by ELI staffers Ellen Barrett and Erin Frederickson. Most of the students had never had traditional Thanksgiving fare, noted Barrett, who said the menu included halal turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Dean-Michael Lynn, ELI’s public relations coordinator, said ELI believes learning about American culture goes hand-in-hand with learning the English language. American holidays and traditions are exciting to share with the international students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, he said, and ELI is careful to explain the evolution of these traditions from sacred to secular.

“Since most American holidays stem from religious origins, it is important for us to consider cultural sensitivity as we convey to our students that American holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving are no longer thought of as religious celebrations but as holidays that are recognized and appreciated by the majority of Americans, regardless of their particular ethnic, cultural, or religious beliefs,” Lynn said. “This year, the ELI Thanksgiving celebration brought our students together to share a traditional, family-style meal where we gave thanks for food and friendship, as well as for all of the good times we had together this semester!”